Your kids are the light of your life, so it can be hard to imagine that your amazing, beautiful, vibrant kiddo might have low self-esteem. Raising a confident child can be hard, but there are a few tactics seasoned parents use to instill a strong sense of self-worth in their kids from a young age. We know that no two children are alike, and there is no one-size-fits-all for parenting. We hope this list helps you pick and choose what works for your kiddos.
1. Model Self-Acceptance
If ever there’s a time to silence your inner critic, it’s in front of children. Kids are sponges and they absorb all of the things we do and say in front of them. In other words, if you don’t want your kids standing in front of a mirror saying their stomach is poochy, don’t do it to yourself. And this doesn’t just apply to physical appearance. Praise yourself once in a while in front of them, with real-life, concrete examples: “I got ready so fast today I was early to work,” or “I really had a great solution at work today, and I am so proud of me.”
2. Help Them Find Their Thing
Encouraging your child to find an activity they really enjoy and can gradually improve at is great for confidence. Anything with measurable improvements, such as a physical sport or a musical instrument, can provide clear examples of how something that is hard can become easier with practice. Experiment with trial and error (see letting your kids fail below). It can take a child a while to find “their thing” and that thing can change with age.
3. And Encourage Them to Stick With It
There’s a difference between something that's painfully difficult and anxiety-inducing and something that is hard. While you don’t want to force your children to do something that negatively affects their mental health, encouraging them to work at it even when it doesn’t come easy will lead to a feeling of great accomplishment.
And even if something isn’t a fit now, they can always try again. For example, your child might struggle to get through a piano lesson at age 5 but love it when they try again at age 10.
4. Listen to Them
Even if you want your child to keep at something, let them express their feelings about it honestly, and tell them you hear them. As the parent, you can evaluate if this is a situation in which they want to give up because they are feeling discouraged, or if it’s something bigger or potentially dangerous, and act accordingly—but in the moment, let your child be honest and acknowledge their feelings. Tell them you will come up with a solution together. Knowing they are heard means they know their opinion is valuable.
This can also be enforced in something as simple as dinner conversation. Let your child have the floor, and don't interrupt when it's their turn, just as you wouldn't want them interrupting you.
5. Get an Eye Exam
You might not think eyesight and confidence are connected, but it’s not uncommon for children to have vision problems before their parents notice. Not being able to properly see the board, screen or other teaching materials at school can make kids feel like they are “not getting it” or add to confusion. For very young children, they may not even know why they are feeling this way, which can lead to frustration.
In addition, if your child is having trouble concentrating at school, struggling with concepts or seems disinterested, especially if this is a new behavior, it could be a sign of eye problems. More than 40 percent of Americans have myopia¹, and in North America, the prevalence of myopia is expected to increase to 58% by the year 2050.² MiSight® 1 day soft contact lenses are the first and only soft contact lenses designed for myopia control and FDA approved* to slow the progression of myopia in children, aged 8 to 12 at the initiation of treatment.³† And, after using MiSight® 1 day contact lenses for three years, 90% of age-appropriate children still strongly preferred them over their glasses.⁴
6. Let Your Kids Take Risks
This one can be incredibly hard for parents and caregivers because our instinct is to protect our children. Naturally, we’re not talking about risky or dangerous behavior, but there are everyday risks that may seem small to grown-ups but are a big deal to kids. Being able to pour their own milk, even if there’s a risk of major spilling involved, is just one example. The milk doesn’t spill: they are proud of themselves. The milk does spill: they need to find a solution to clean it up.
7. Give Them Responsibilities
Allow your children to contribute to the household with age-appropriate chores and responsibilities. This will not only help you, but it will let them know you believe they can do it.
Offering specific, meaningful praise will give them even more confidence, plus the desire to keep up with those responsibilities. From telling a 3-year-old “I like how you quickly you cleaned up your toys,” to playfully reminding your tween, “I believe in your ability to fold laundry!” keep the examples relevant to the job at hand.
8. Let Them Fail
We won’t lie: it can be devastating to watch your child fail, especially when it is something they have their heart set on. This one can be incredibly hard for parents and caregivers because our instinct is to protect our children.
Auditioning for a school play, trying out for a team, talking to a new person at school, even taking an exam are all healthy risks that can come with big rewards, but they can also come with failure. And as hard as it is to hold a crying child who wanted to make the team, the resilience it builds will go a long way when facing tougher stuff as adults.
Another example of letting them fail ties in with personal responsibility. Yes, you want your kids to get good grades and do well at school, but if they don’t do their project on time, they will face the consequences. Failing to do a good job can encourage them to be motivated to not fail again.
9. Arrange a Physical
You’re a pro at the well-baby checks, but every year when your child gets their physical, it isn’t just about their growth chart. Confident kids know that their body is their own. Particularly as children advance to tween years, having a safe place with a trusted adult outside the home to talk about any health concerns, mentally and physically, will give them a sense of control over their own bodies.
10. Accept Imperfection
It's okay if they put their clothes away lopsided or their handwriting isn't great. Practice may not make perfect, but it will make improvements. Instead of stressing about little everyday imperfections, in yourself, your life and your kids, leave the dishes in the sink, the flyaway hair flying and go outside and play. Yes, we mean you, parents!
Indications and Important Safety Information.
Results may vary.
ATTENTION: Reference the Patient Information Booklet for a complete listing of Indications and Important Safety Information. *Indication: MiSight® 1 day (omafilcon A) soft (hydrophilic) contact lenses for daily wear are indicated for the correction of myopic ametropia and for slowing the progression of myopia in children with non-diseased eyes, who at the initiation of treatment are 8-12 years of age and have refraction of -0.75 to -4.00 diopters(spherical equivalent) with 0.75 diopters of astigmatism. The lens is to be discarded after each removal. Warnings: Problems with contact lenses could result in serious injury to the eye. Do not expose contact lenses to water while wearing them. Under certain circumstances MiSight® lenses optical design can cause reduced image contrast/ghosting/halo/glare in some patients that may cause difficulties with certain visually demanding tasks. Precautions: Daily wear single use only. Patient should always dispose when lenses are removed. No overnight wear. Patients should exercise extra care if performing potentially hazardous activities. Adverse events: Including but not limited to infection/inflammation/ulceration/abrasion of the cornea, other parts of the eye or eyelids. Some of these adverse reactions can cause permanent or temporary loss of vision. If you notice any of the stated in your child, immediately have your child remove the lenses and contact your eye care professional.
†Compared to a single vision 1 day lens over a 3 year period.
¹ Vitale S, Sperduto RD, Ferris FL 3rd. Increased prevalence of myopia in the United States between 1971-1972 and 1999-2004. Arch Ophthalmol. 2009;127(12):1632-1639. doi:10.1001/archophthalmol.2009.303
² Holden BA, Fricke TR, Wilson DA, et al. Global Prevalence of Myopia and High Myopia and Temporal Trends from 2000 through 2050. Ophthalmology. 2016;123(5):1036-1042. doi:10.1016/j.ophtha.2016.01.006
³ Chamberlain P, et al. A 3-year randomized clinical trial of MiSight® lenses for myopia control. Optom Vis Sci. 2019; 96(8):556-567.
⁴ Sulley A et al. Wearer experience and subjective responses with dual focus compared to spherical, single vision soft contact lenses in children during a 3-year clinical trial. AAO 2019 Poster Presentation.